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12 Effective Strategies To Drive Sales Productivity in 2021

Sales productivity helps your company run smoother and more efficiently. We’ll take a look at how to increase sales productivity with the best strategies.
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    In 2020, many companies had to rethink how they operated — whether they wanted to or not.  Businesses had to keep up with constantly shifting changes and disrupt the typical day-to-day goings-on to stay afloat.

     

    As the world slowly gets back to normal, companies can use this time as an opportunity to take a closer look at their processes. Instead of just recovering and going back to business as usual, this is your chance to maximize sales efficiency and look for areas of improvement.

     

    Let 2021 be the year you figure out how to increase sales productivity for your company.

     

    Defining sales productivity is unique to each business. But by evaluating your processes, defining your metrics, and finding areas that need support, you can unearth several ways to increase sales productivity.

     

    In this guide, we’ll define sales productivity and why it’s vital to optimize it. Plus, we’ll cover 12 methods to drive your sales up by making your team more efficient.

     

    Sales Productivity

     

    What-is-sales-productivity

     

    Sales productivity is how efficient a sales team or sales rep is in regards to sales resources. By looking at the relationship of inputs (e.g., time and money) and outputs (e.g., total sales or leads generated), you can measure your team’s productivity.

     

    Every company’s sales productivity metrics will vary depending upon its business plans and priorities. For some, that can be specific sales goals like a revenue target or a number of units sold. But other companies might be focused on generating leads or customer retention.

     

    When you look at how you increase sales productivity, see how much went into reaching that goal. For example, if it took your sales team 10 total hours to make and close a sale, maybe you’ll focus on lowering that number so your team can make more sales.

     

    Ideally, you want a higher output and a lower input to maximize your efforts.

     

    The Importance of Sales Productivity

     

    Busy doesn’t always mean productive. Also, high sales volume or sky-scraping annual sales don’t always mean productivity. Your company could be doing well but also wasting more time than you realize.

     

    Even if time isn’t being wasted, there could be several ways to boost your sales effectiveness.

     

    Productivity isn’t only about efficiency or saving time and money, even though those are essential. It can also mean making your sales team better with more training or providing customers more value by creating an improved sales experience.

     

    Maybe your sales team productivity is lagging because your employees don’t spend enough time on high-value activities. Or they could be unhappy because of unproductive tasks that bring little meaning, or they’re burnt-out from tasks that take away from their sales time.

     

    Learning how to maximize sales productivity can result in:

    • Better sales
    • Happier employees
    • Loyal customers
    • Less time wasted

     

    So let’s dive into the 12 most effective strategies.

     

    Image suggestion: Checklist with clocks, lightbulbs, and different tools like pencils and computers

     

    How To Increase Sales Productivity

    1. Take stock of your current sales performance
    2. Determine your key metrics
    3. Get feedback from your employees
    4. Onboard, train, and continually coach your team
    5. Define your sales process
    6. Clarify your target audience and determine customer needs
    7. Evolve to virtual selling
    8. Use the right sales tools
    9. Decrease time-wasting activities
    10. Set goals and reassess
    11. Celebrate achievements and keep motivation up
    12. Don’t miss the forest for the trees

     

    1. Take Stock of Your Current Sales Performance

     

    Doing an audit of your current practices is essential to understand your baseline and start your sales productivity analysis. So before you begin planning for the future, get a good assessment of what your process looks like today.

     

    Tracking your workflows can be done by asking your sales agents to write down the steps for sales processes, such as:

    • Acquiring new clients
    • Closing deals
    • Logging sales
    • Onboarding customers
    • Keeping track of leads

     

    While this may seem tedious, there are helpful tools like nTask’s timesheet reporting and time tracking software that help you better manage and keep track of your team’s time with no extra fuss.

     

    timesheet_hero

     

    By cataloging these practices, you’ll inevitably start to notice places for improvement and identify weaknesses you’ll need to address for how to increase sales productivity.

     

    But make sure to thoroughly complete this step instead of jumping ahead. The more you understand your current methods, the more you can improve them later.

     

    2. Determine Your KPIs for Measuring Sales Productivity

     

    sales-kpi

     

    Defining your sales productivity metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) will be the primary way you measure, track, and create your goals. “Improving sales productivity” is a great objective, but you won’t get far without any indicators for progress.

     

    The list of sales productivity measures is long, with examples like:

    • Conversion rate
    • Annual revenue
    • Number of sales calls
    • Time spent with customers
    • Average sales at specific locations
    • Customer service rating
    • Outreach events
    • Number of proposals
    • Engagement rate

     

    Make your markers specific to your company and your goals. A dollar amount might work for some, but others will benefit by tracking lead generation sales metrics.

     

    As you work on how to increase sales productivity, these metrics might change. But knowing which KPIs are the most vital to your success will help you keep them in focus, and measuring your progress will tell you how well you’re doing.

     

    Image Suggestion: Team meeting with engaged participants

     

    3. Get Feedback From Your Employees

     

    If you want to know more about your organizational sales productivity, just ask your employees. Gathering feedback from employees can save you time from guessing at sales strategies that might help.

     

    Maybe you think those morning meetings are a great method to motivate the team. But they might actually get in the way of your employees’ selling time, and a quick afternoon catch-up could be much better. The best way to find out is to ask.

     

    Touching base with your sales professionals helps you better support them. For example, your sales headcount might be too low, and your team is feeling strained. Or there are other sales productivity challenges they’re facing, like wasting time on cold calls.

     

    Not only will asking them directly help you craft a better sales strategy, but your team will feel included in the process.

     

    4. Onboard, Train, and Continually Coach Your Team

     

    onboard-and-train-your-employees

     

    In his book Return on Learning: Training for High Performance at Accenture, Donald Vanthournout found that training had a high return on investment (ROI). For every dollar invested in learning, his company added $3.53 in value. That’s a 353% return.

     

    Investment in sales training is a no-brainer for how to increase sales productivity. A more qualified and prepared sales staff will perform better.

     

    This starts at the beginning with onboarding new employees. Properly onboarding and training new team members will prevent turnover and improve productivity sooner.

     

    And remember, there is no “done” when it comes to learning. So don’t forget about senior employees. All sales representatives can benefit from more education.

     

    Training doesn’t have to be dreaded. There are plenty of ways to make it a rewarding experience.

     

    It can be mutually beneficial to pair a sales manager with someone who needs help, for example. You could also create mentorship programs, organize workshops, or host a speaker series with sales leaders who can provide actionable sales advice.

     

    5. Define Your Sales Process

     

    Having a template for your sales process can be helpful. Whether that’s streamlining your sales cycle or creating clear steps for the customer acquisition process, a defined workflow can save time. Instead of reinventing the wheel, your team knows what needs to happen and when.

     

    Take a look at your core selling activities and see which processes, like task or project management, could succeed with definition and organization.

     

    For example, if you define the concrete steps your customer takes down your sales funnel, you might be able to get them through it faster and improve your sales force productivity.

     

    HubSpot’s free CRM software gives you real-time oversight of your sales pipeline. You can track metrics, including deals created, individual performance, and other company insights.

     

    HubSpot

     

    Once you get a clear image of your sales process, HubSpot’s advanced CRM lets you organize your data in a helpful way to scale your sales time and close more deals.

     

    6. Clarify Your Target Audience and Determine Customer Needs

     

    Sales Insights Lab found that a shocking 50% of sales prospects are not a fit for the product they’re being sold.

     

    This statistic means you could be wasting a lot of time selling to people who don’t want your product. And maybe even worse, you’re not spending that time selling to those who do need it. That will not help you with how to increase sales productivity for your company.

     

    The more time you spending honing in on your target audience, the more productive your sales will be.

     

    When you’re solving problems for your customers, you make their buying decisions simple. You want to meet your specific customers’ needs. Sometimes that means casting a smaller net, so you make high-quality sales.

     

    By getting clear on your ideal customer, your sales pitch becomes laser-accurate. Instead of pitching to 100 people, where maybe 15 are the right fit, you can target that 15 initially and make a higher percentage of those sales. This also decreases the time spent on people who will never convert.

     

    7. Evolve to Virtual Selling

     

    We’re in a time where the sales game is evolving faster than ever before. Unfortunately — or fortunately for some — traditional sales tactics could be slowing you down in the digital world.

     

    The RAIN Group found that 88% of sellers find it difficult to build relationships with customers virtually, and 80% find the virtual transition difficult in general.

     

    You’re not going to figure out how to increase sales productivity unless you learn how to adapt and keep up. Virtual selling is the future, and learning how to do it now will help you stay efficient and ahead of the curve.

     

    Moving your sales process online will look different for each company.

     

    Instead of having salespeople demonstrate how to use your products, your marketing team can put together a video series doing just that. Or maybe your team needs to improve how they find time for meetings with a scheduling tool, instead of bouncing several “What time works for you?” emails.

     

    Stay flexible and keep evolving.

     

    8. Use the Right Sales Productivity Software

     

    There are several benefits of being a salesperson today. To name one, many sales tools and software make it much easier to support and enhance the process.

     

    The sheer amount of sales productivity tools can be overwhelming. Whether you need sales analytics, a CRM tool, or a way to standardize advertising cookies, there’s likely sales technology that can help.

     

    Revisit your sales processes and find the gaps in your workflow.

     

    Are you spending too much time on tasks that can be automated? Maybe you need marketing automation software that can send bulk emails for email campaigns.

     

    Or you could need to overhaul your communication management with the right platform.

     

    You want software that makes your life easier and your sales better, like a comprehensive project management tool that offers many features in one place.

     

    HubSpot’s CRM offers specialization hubs for multiple departments including sales, marketing, operations, customer service, and owners.

     

    Hubspot sales

     

    Each hub has tools to improve your work and help with productivity, such as:

    • Contact management
    • Call tracking
    • Reporting dashboard
    • Company insights
    • Meeting scheduling
    • Email marketing

     

    9. Decrease Time-Wasting Activities

     

    One of the best ways to determine how to increase sales productivity is by decreasing time wasted. A Salary.com survey found that 39% of employees misuse at least one hour a week at work, with 29% misusing two hours. That’s a lot of productivity lost.

     

    In your evaluation and feedback steps, you most likely discovered multiple areas that could be more efficient or eliminated. These can include tasks like:

    • Answering emails
    • Meetings
    • Taking notes
    • Data entry
    • Keeping logs
    • Searching for information

     

    It’s not that these activities aren’t necessary, but there might be better ways to approach them. For example, maybe you can use a call recording tool to save time from taking meticulous notes or establish a better process of looking for information like email addresses.

     

    Brainstorm ways to decrease the time spent on non-selling activities for sales enablement instead.

     

    10. Set Goals and Reassess

     

    Set Milestones in nTask Project

    Set goals and milestones in nTask

     

    As you figure out the best strategies for your company, put them to the test by setting sales activity goals. That could be setting a particular sales target or hitting a percentage of revenue by a specific date.

     

    Your goals will depend on how you increase sales productivity, and they can be excellent markers to tell you how close or far you need to go.

     

    The SMART goal methodology can be helpful here with setting objectives that are:

    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Relevant
    • Timely

     

    Instead of biting off too big of a task, you can scale down to smaller steps that will have more significant ripple effects. You could organize training for your employees or upgrade your project management software — both are examples of actionable steps that can have noticeable improvements for your sales.

     

    And if you’re not meeting your goals, don’t forget to reassess and pivot as needed. Your strategies to improve sales productivity shouldn’t be set in stone until you know they’re working.

     

    Image suggestion: Team members celebrating a sales goal

     

    11. Celebrate Achievements and Keep Motivation Up

     

    celebrate-achievements-and-keep-motivation

     

    No one can stay productive 100% of the time without motivation. People need reasons to strive for success. Make sure to acknowledge employees and their progress — big and small.

     

    Consider creating an employee engagement strategy. If employees are actively engaged, it can:

    • Reduce absenteeism
    • Decrease turnover
    • Result in better work
    • Create a positive environment
    • Improve morale

     

    All of which can improve productivity.

     

    If you spend all your time on how to increase sales productivity by looking at the facts and figures and not the people behind them, you’re missing out on other potential benefits.

     

    Stressed out, unmotivated employees won’t help you reach your target. So make sure you’re putting in the effort to keep your staff inspired.

     

    12. Don’t Miss the Forest for the Trees

     

    Be wary of getting too focused on productivity as the only measure — allow for flexibility and creativity too. If you develop tunnel vision on your mission of figuring out how to increase sales productivity, you might sabotage yourself.

     

    Don’t micromanage behaviors or ignore wins because they could have been more productive. Remember, the goal of sales productivity is to become a better company. Don’t get so focused on productivity that you miss the bigger picture.

     

    Final Thoughts

     

    Sales productivity can help your business eliminate time waste and produce higher, better sales. Now that you understand how to increase sales productivity, you can choose the best sales strategies for your company to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

     

    By identifying your weaknesses and addressing solutions through training, software, and culture, you can improve your business and set yourself up for success.

     

    Are you ready to see how much smoother your project workflows can be? Sign up for a free trial with nTask today.


    Post by: Irina Nica 
    Senior Marketing Manager, Product Awareness at HubSpot

     

    Irina is a digital marketer and international keynote speaker based in Dublin, Ireland. She’s currently working at HubSpot, where she is focused on building awareness for the company’s freemium products. Irina was also one of the Head Judges for the 2020 Global Search Awards and has been on the judging panel for the 2020 European Search Awards.

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